Juddering, stuttering or jerking – whatever word you use to describe it, if your car’s no longer running smoothly, then it’s always a cause for concern. Not only is it an unpleasant feeling for you and anyone who’s along for the ride, but the lack of control can also end up putting everyone, including other drivers and pedestrians, at serious risk.

If your car is juddering, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll investigate the causes behind how this frustrating issue can occur along with what you can do about a juddering or stuttering car.

Common reasons why your car is juddering

Been wondering why your car is juddering? As well as occurring in different situations (such as accelerating or braking), it could be due to all sorts of different reasons.

Your car is juddering when accelerating

Your car begins juddering when putting your foot down on the accelerator but stops upon release. You may also notice a sulphur-y smell and your engine making louder noises than usual.

What might be causing this?

Old or dirty spark plugs. If your spark plugs are looking a little worse for wear, or they’re especially dirty, then they’ll have a hard time igniting the fuel in the engine’s piston chambers. Deficient spark plugs will cause the engine to misfire, which is what causes it to jerk when accelerating.

Your car is juddering when braking

Your car is juddering when you apply the brake, and it’s accompanied by a loud noise and the brake warning light switching on when you do so.

What might be causing this?

Worn out brake pads or discs. If your brake pads or discs have worn out unevenly or distorted because of hot weather conditions, then your braking won’t be as smooth as it should be. Misaligned wheels can also make this problem worse.

mechanic fixing a car

Your car is juddering when pulling away

Setting off in first gear causes your car to shake, only stopping when you move into a higher gear.

What might be causing this?

Clutch problems. Juddering in first gear is usually caused by wear or a pressure plate problem in your car’s clutch. Any leaks in the system may also get onto the surface of the clutch plate, which could also be the culprit.

Your car is juddering when at idle

Whether you’re sat at the side of the road, at a junction or a red light, your car is juddering more than usual and it feels like you might end up stalling.

What might be causing this?

A clogged air filter. If your air filter has become clogged over time, then your engine may not have the right fuel-air mix it needs to combust. This build-up blocks the flow of fuel, which is what causes juddering, misfiring and a rough engine idle.

Your car is juddering at low revs

When you’re in motion at low revs your car judders, until you accelerate up to a higher speed and move into higher gears.

What might be causing this?

Worn engine mounts. Loose or worn engine mounts, which hold the engine to the chassis, could be the culprit. Problems with the distributor cap may also be to blame, so it’s important to have the issue checked over by a trained mechanic.

mechanic taking to customer about issues with car

What you can do about a juddering car

Living with a juddering, stuttering car day-to-day can make driving a miserable experience. Not only that, but it’s almost certainly the symptom of a fault that will get worse over time, so you should get your car looked at sooner rather than later.

A professional mechanic will be able to diagnose underlying problems with your vehicle quickly and easily. Most garages now use advanced diagnostic equipment that pinpoint issues in a matter of minutes, so you can get to the bottom of the issue and have it fixed before it can get any worse.

There are all sorts of reasons why your car may be juddering, so remedial work can include anything from replacing the spark plugs or clutch plate to repairing the brakes and engine mounts. Of course, this will also affect the cost of repair, so fingers crossed that the juddering is being caused by something as simple as a blocked air filter.

Whatever the problem is with your car, it’s always worth taking it to a professional mechanic to have it checked over. As we mentioned earlier, juddering can be dangerous, affecting how your car handles and performs, so you should always have it checked over by someone who knows what they’re doing rather than trying to diagnose and fix the problem yourself.

For more motoring tips and advice, head to the Brindley blog. In the market for a used car? Maybe you want to learn about our servicing options? Follow the links or contact your local Brindley Group dealership.